Creamy Lentil Coconut Curry

Food, Health, Lifestyle

I make curry in the freezing cold and peak humidity of summer, the spices will have you breaking a sweat, but the comfort and nourishment of this dish makes it a good idea on just about any day. This dish can feed plenty or be packed and you will have leftovers for dayssss and it’s budget friendly.

So here are the ingredients, most of which are plants:

The Basics

2 tablespoons of your oil of choice. (I use coconut oil for more coco taste)

1 head of garlic (Chopped, 8-12 Cloves)

1.5 cup onions (Thin Slices)

2 scallions (chop bulb and shoots)

2 cups potatoes (I love the taste Japanese sweet potatoes give the dish, but you can mix a variety of potatoes of your choice.)

2 cup veggie Stock

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 cup lentils (Any variety)

1 15-ounce can of coco milk

1 15-ounce can of coco cream

Add What You Love (mix and match the veggies, I will share with you my favorite combination)

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup red pepper (Sliced)

2 cup kale (Chopped)

2-3 tomatoes

Spice it up

2 tablespoons ginger (Chopped)

2-3 tablespoons curry

1 cup chopped cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in large skillet while adding your garlic, scallions & onions until soft
  2. Add the potatoes & veggie stock & let simmer for about 15 minutes
  3. Once potatoes are semi-soft, add the lentils & sea salt, simmer for 10 minutes
  4. Spice it up! add ginger &curry mix in well
  5. Add the veggies that take more time to cook first(broccoli & red pepper) and more veggie stock if you need, simmer for 10 minutes
  6. Mix in your coco milk & cream, this is where the flavor blends with texture
  7. Now add your softer veggies(kale & tomato) lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or more if needed, once fully cooked, remove from heat & mix in cilantro
  8. Taste test: make sure the veggies are soft, the spice is on par & add time or ingredients to adjust to your taste
  9. Serve once done & store the rest for leftovers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Packing for Peace Corps (While Saving the Earth)

Lifestyle, Peace Corps

The time is fast approaching! A month countdown begins today, before I leave the USA to serve in the Peace Corps for two whole years!!(yes, I’ll be nearing age 24 by the time I get back, crazy, I know)

Where am I going you wonder? Nicaragua, where i’ll be teaching environmental education to primary school children, the dream. Packing for a two year trip requires quite a bit of planning, especially if you’re like me and plan on being as environmentally friendly as possible, which means a lot of second-hand thrift shopping and clothes swapping with friends and family.

One of my goals as an environmental educator is to promote sustainability in all forms, and this means being a conscious consumer as I purchase and pack clothing, luggage, shoes, etc.

What’s the big deal with shopping around for new things anyway? Shopping used to be a trip to the mall, ordering online, basically buying anything and everything brand new. This didn’t bother me until I read the numbers…

  1. It takes 700 gallons of water to make a cotton t-shirt.
  2. The average American throws out about 82 pounds of textile waste per year.
  3. Clothes can take up to 40 years to decompose.
  4. Shoes can take up to a 1,000 years to break down.
  5. 95% of textiles cannot be recycled.

After reading figures like these, my immediate reaction was how can I contribute less to these statistics?!

The solution may not be convenient, but it’s certainly less expensive, less pollutive and better for the earth, which is a concern for Peace Corps volunteers who care about people and the planet. Shopping second hand for most of my Peace Corps needs was a fun challenge and one I know will shape my future experiences.

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Clothing

  • 3 Denim Shorts
  • 1 Khaki Short
  • 1 Denim Skirt
  • 3 Long Khakis
  • 5 Pairs of Slacks
  • 2 Rayon-stretch Pants
  • 3 Dark-Denim Jeans
  • 3 Long Skirts
  • 1 Short Skirt
  • 6 Pairs of Yoga Pants
  • 2 Yoga Shorts
  • 6 Cotton T-Shirts for Bed
  • 1 Long Sleeve Spandex Shirt
  • 2 Shorts Sleeve Spandex Shirts
  • 9 Tank Tops
  • 4 Long Sleeve Tops
  • 4 Collard Shirts
  • 6 Cotton Shirts
  • 3 Blouses
  • 3 Strappy Tops
  • 4 Dresses
  • 1 Pair of Overalls
  • 1 Sweatshirt
  • 1 Rain Jacket
  • 1 Cotton Jacket
  • 1 Bandana
  • 2 Swimsuits
  • 30x Underwear (This I would not recommend buying second hand… when put in a situation like this where you must by new, I try my best to shop organic, fair-trade. My favorite brand by far is: PactOrganic)
  • 30x Socks (Same rule applies for socks, if you can try to go organic and fair trade)

Where to find second hand clothes? I found most of the above at: Goodwill, Poshmark(Online Clothing Buy/Sell), Housing Works, City Opera Thrift Shop, and from the closets of friends and family(Shout out to you guys, you rock). Local thrift stores are all over the place and many of them partner with great charities and organizations to raise money for HIV Prevention and Awareness, Train people for Careers, Fight Homelessness, support the LGBTQ Community and so much more. There are several pros to thrifting!

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Shoes

  • Converse
  • New Balance
  • Hiking Boots
  • Mules
  • Slip On Canvas Shoes
  • Sandals
  • Flip Flops

*Tip: When buying used shoes you can disinfect them with a natural homemade mix of things you can find in your fridge like vinegar and lemon.

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(My sister thrifted and gifted this fitting little miss green T, thanks Sam)

Electronics

  • Macbook /Macbook Charger(Laptop is a must)
  • Compact Converter
  • DSLR Camera (2x Lenses)
  • Power Bank/Travel Light
  • Phone/ Phone Charger
  • External Hard Drive
  • Speakers
  • Headlight + Extra Batteries
  • Extension Chord
  • Headphones (x2)
  • Flashlight
  • Flashdrive (x2)
  • Battery Powered Alarm Clock
  • Extra Batteries
  • Digital Watch/FITBIT (Great to track miles/calories without the use of gym equipment)

Personal Health/Hygiene

  • Bamboo Toothbrush/Case (x5) (I like these because they are compostable but obviously you can find these in country)
  • Toothpaste (You can purchase toothpaste or 3 simple ingredients to make your own)
  • Floss
  • Razor
  • Face Wash (You can bring your own, use African Black Soap or make your own with local ingredients)
  • Shampoo/Conditioner (You can bring your own or make your own with local ingredients, I use Baking Soda + Apple Cider Vinegar)
  • Soap/Soap Holder (African Black Soap is magic and can be used for practically all washing needs like face wash + shampoo)
  • Deodorant (You can purchase or make your own with local ingredients, I just use baking soda! Works like a charm)
  • Menstrual Cup (Zero Waste alternative to Tampons or Pads, Saves you $$$ + good for the planet, highly recommend)
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Ties/Clippers
  • Quick Dry Towels (x2)
  • Shower Bag
  • Natural Loofa (Compostable)
  • Mirror
  • Nail Clippers/Files
  • Tweezers
  • Q-Tips
  • Natural Sunscreen
  • Essential Oils (Great for Skin Treatment, bug bites, relaxation, headaches, all around soothing)
  • Tiger Balm
  • Makeup
  • Aloe Vera (Can be used as moisturizer and for any burns!)
  • Chapstick (You can purchase or make yourself with local ingredients)

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100% Recycled Biodegradable Packaging, BPA Free, Phthalate Free, PVC Free, Biodegradable & Compostable

BMBU Toothbrush


Lifetime Razor, almost 100 years old belonged to my great grandpa during the 1930’s. Besides the sentimental value behind this razor, I am happy to find a razor that isn’t a plastic disposable, and even better allows you to sharpen the blade over and over again. You can actually still purchase a Rolls Razor on EBay.

100% Biodegradable floss, no waste here.

This sunscreen is non-toxic and cruelty free. Most sunscreen finds its way into ocean waters and bleaches coral, however, this brand, Raw Elements is safe for you and the planet.

Work Supplies

  • Plenty of Pens/Pencils
  • Sharpies
  • Highlighters
  • Tape
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Whiteboard Markers/Regular Markers
  • Index Cards
  • Stickers


Found this stainless steel water bottle for $3 at goodwill! Brand new would be $40

Miscellaneous

  • WATER BOTTLE (32 oz. Preferably)
  • Sunglasses
  • Baseball Cap
  • Cotton Sheet set
  • Comfy Pillow
  • Umbrella
  • Reusable Canvas Bags
  • Stainless Steel Straw
  • Pocket Knife
  • Journal(s)/Books
  • Card Games
  • Light-Weight Robe
  • Belt
  • Earplugs
  • Hiking Packpack
  • Gardening Gloves/Tools (For enviro volunteers)
  • Jump Rope (Aside from running, i’m assuming it’s gonna be a challenge getting a decent workout)
  • Pictures of Family + Friends
  • Yoga Mat
  • French Press

This blog post will be a work in progress up until the day I leave; I will continue adding content as I gather more things and discover any useful tips for Peace Corps packers!

This blog represents my own thoughts and opinions. They do not directly reflect those of the U.S. Peace Corps or Nicaragua

 

8 Reasons to Go Vegan

Lifestyle

The Animals. It goes first because in actuality, these innocent living beings are put last. In a world where we see hate, violence and unnecessary cruelty, going vegan is the most compassionate way to live. The animals that are being bred and raised in factory farms are only a small group of species humans have decided over decades to domesticate and abuse for nothing more than palate pleasure. Meanwhile, we respect and protect other species we find more valuable and even consider them part of the family. The treatment of cows, chickens and pigs in America would simply never be tolerated if the same treatment were applied to dogs and cats.

 The animals that end up on our plates are not the only ones who die.

It is standard industry practice to kill wildlife predators – coyotes, foxes, deer, bears and many more native species to make room to graze livestock as well as protect profits. A lot of the wildlife end up suffering and dying before they are targeted by the meat industry due to habitat destruction. With the meat industry being a huge contributor to deforestation, water pollution, air pollution, climate change and drought, it wrecks the lives of innocent animals and the entire ecosystem.

Health. The #1 killer in the U.S.A is Heart Disease according to the World Health Organization. This is a disease caused by high blood pressure, lack of exercise, obesity, diabetes and especially poor diet. It is understood that heart disease is the narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup. But where exactly does this plaque come from?  Foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as meat, dairy and eggs causes cholesterol to build up in the blood stream and replacing those foods with plant based alternatives actually reverses those effects.(animal products are the only source of dietary cholesterol.) Our bodies naturally produce cholesterol leaving humans no need to consume it. By incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes into your diet and avoiding animal products, you are significantly lowering your chances of getting heart disease.

By avoiding animal products you are also decreasing your risk of developing various cancers. Since animal protein has a higher proportion of essential amino acids, it causes our bodies to produce higher levels of insulin-like growth factor-1. This hormone is responsible for cell-division and growth in both cancerous and non-cancerous cells which is why people with higher levels of IGF-1 are more prone to have cancer and other diseases. A study published in 2014 confirms that high protein intake is linked to increased cancer, diabetes, and overall mortality.

Besides a plant based diet helping to prevent diseases, it is also the way to eat if you are facing health problems present day. An incredible story about a man who beat cancer with raw foods instead of chemo-therapy is a success story many would never think possible yet the power of raw foods proves otherwise.

Climate Change. One of the biggest contributors to climate change is animal agriculture. A study conducted by environmental specialists at the World Bank concluded that livestock production is responsible for 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Meaning the production of meat and animal products is heating the planet more than the entire transportation sector combined. Choosing to abstain from eating animal products is the biggest most impactful choice we can make in the fight to reverse climate change before it is too late. The study accounted for the overlooked emissions that come with raising animals for food such as respiration, land use, and under counted methane.

Leaving animal products off of your plate is arguably the only way to save the planet.

Water. One single hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to produce. This is because meat production requires gallons and gallons of water to operate the facilities and feed the animals. When we walk down the isles of our grocery store and see the final product, it is easy to forget the water it took to grow the food, the fuel it took to ship the food to the farm, the water the animal actually drinks and the waste that comes from raising that animal which ends up contaminating water and causing dead zones(large bodies of water that do not have oxygen to support marine life). Producing meat is a complete waste of resources for what yields only a small amount of food. Imagine the number of other ways  we could allocate the 80%-90% of US water consumption used to operate factory farms.

Deforestation. Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon Destruction. How could so much destruction occur at the hands of man and more importantly why? Well in order to supply people with the ever growing demand for animal products, the space needed for the industry must grow too. I know it may seem like our earth is ginormous but the human population is growing at such a rate that our poor little planet cannot support our meat eating habits. Since the industry prefers to keep making money by chopping down our precious amazon, we are losing an immense amount of trees(our biggest natural carbon sink) as well as all of the wildlife that inhabits those trees are now on the endangered species list or have gone extinct.

The good news? You can save the trees by eating plants and leaving animal products off of your plate!

Social Justice. All oppression is connected. When we allow the belief that living beings should be abused, killed and commodified, we are sending the message that there is a line to be drawn between different lives who all feel pain and desire to live. That some can live and others should die and of course it’s easiest to do with the non-human animals who cannot speak our language. It makes it a lot easier to kill something when it can’t tell you “Hey! Please don’t slit my throat and boil me until my hair burns off! I actually would like to live and be a mother to my babies that I only have because humans impregnated me for their own purposes.” Meat eating stems from the core belief that humans are superior and non-human animals are inferior and it is this exact mentality that has fueled the genocides of our history. It’s the belief people had about one race or country that caused the deadliest wars and most human suffering.

There is a beautiful intersection that happens when one goes vegan. It’s the connection of all things living and an appreciation and respect for all life. We wouldn’t be here without the bees who pollinate our food, or the trees that supply our oxygen, so how could anyone ever create a superior species when we all depend on each other to survive?

World Hunger. We have the food required to feed every person on this planet sufficiently. We are simply choosing to feed it to farm animals. In countries with the most starvation, people are growing plant based crops and sending them to affluent nations like the U.S. to feed to livestock. We lose an exponential amount of caloric potential and smaller yield through meat production. In other words, by growing the plants and feeding them to a cow for almost a year, we are left with a very small amount of food. If we took the cow out of the equation and fed people the grains instead of the cow, we would be able to feed a lottttt more people. In a study conducted in 2013, scientists reached the conclusion that if all food crops were fed directly to humans instead of animals, around 70% more food would be added to the world’s supply, which would be enough to feed 4 billion additional people.

Another reason to go vegan!

Save Money. Plants are the cheapest food source in every grocery store as long as you are buying whole foods like rice, beans, tomatoes, etc. While it is true that some vegan products such as mock meat and vegan cheese do cost a bit more being that they are a luxury food, you don’t have to buy them! Most vegans will spend a bit on substitute products in the beginning and then eventually stop buying them altogether, ultimately saving them money. Not to mention all of the money you will be saving from potential future medical expenses that come with a poor diet!

Well, there you have it. 8 reasons to go vegan!